Apr 12

April 12.10: What to make of the first week?

To be sure six games is too small a sampling to get a definitive feel about the Mets. However, it isn’t too small to quash some first impressions.

Among them:

1) The preseason concerns on John Maine. As has been the case with Maine, he throws far too many pitches and labors with his command. He gets his second start tomorrow in Colorado, a place where it is not easy to pitch. Maine is No. 2 in the rotation currently and insists his shoulder is fine. OK, but his velocity is down and control is off. Not good and there have been little signs of turning it around.

2) Oliver Perez is Oliver Perez, which is to say he’s an enigma. Through his first five innings Saturday he threw 12-24-12-24-12 pitches. He walked four or which two of the runners scored. Perez will live and die with his command. When he worked quickly his control was good, but get a runner or two on base and he takes forever and his ball can go anywhere. Perez is not the pitcher you bet on.

3) The offense is as spotty as it was last year. Hitting with runners in scoring position seems to be a foreign concept. It’s not too many games in which they’ll hit four homers.

4) Mike Jacobs is Mike Jacobs. He’s always been a streaky hitter and so far he’s gotten off to a slow start. Maybe the homer Sunday will get him on track. Colorado is often a good place for a hitter, or an offense, to get hot.

5) Until David Wright hits the inside pitch he’s going to be pounded inside and handcuffed. When Wright is on he drives the ball the opposite way, but he’s not getting many pitches on the outside half of the plate. He needs to pull a few to keep the hitters honest.

6) The bullpen will be a key. So far it has been outstanding, and perhaps the biggest reason why these games have been competitive. Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano are in competition for the eighth inning role. If the bullpen can maintain the Mets will be all right. However, it can’t keep throwing three innings a game. That will add up before you know it.

7) I’m not worried about Jason Bay. No homers so far, but he’s making contact and I love his hustle. He’ll be fine.

Apr 08

April 8.10: About Last Night – Flashback, 2009.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think back to last night was the comeback, how it was generated by good, patient at-bats. Considering how they played overall, the Mets had no business playing baseball in the tenth inning last night.

The rally was encouraging because we saw too little of that last season.

However, and you knew there would be one, last night was a reminder of last season in several ways.

First, there was the horrid starting pitching of John Maine. We heard during spring training that his shoulder was fine, and maybe it is, but there’s something definitely not right with his pitching. Ninety-two pitches is way too many for not getting out of the fifth. His location was spotty (he missed on the homer by a foot and a wild pitch set up another run) and his velocity is down.

Will Maine improve? I really don’t know. You would hope, but maybe the 15 wins in 2007 was his ceiling.

Secondly, there was the offense, which mustered only six hits. They were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine. One or two more hits and this was a win.

Finally, the bullpen gave up three runs. When your starter won’t give you five, giving up three in the pen is too many. Jenrry Mejia’s outing made you wonder if the Mets jumping the gun with him, but the performances by Sean Green and Hisanori Takahashi makes one think they might not have had a choice. Oh yeah, last night would have been perfect for Nelson Figueroa.

There was the Fernando Tatis play, which was boneheaded for sure. A reminder of how sloppy they were on the bases last night. But, you can’t hang the game on that one play. Afterall, there was no guarantee David Wright would have come through.

Of course, no guarantee he wouldn’t have, either.

Jan 20

Jan. 20.10: Should Mets pursue Sheets?

SHEETS: Worth the risk?

SHEETS: Worth the risk?

Ben Sheets might be the best pitcher out there, but he’s damaged goods. Sheets, who missed all of last season following elbow surgery, worked out before league scouts and was given a hearty “thumbs up.”

One scout told the MLB Network: “Good mechanics. Great shape. Is way ahead of where he’d be velocity wise at [the beginning of a] normal spring.”

The Mets, in need of rotation help, will compete with the Cubs, Rangers, Seattle and St. Louis, who are also said to be interested.

Initially, Sheets was after a one-year deal worth $12 million, but reportedly the market is at one year for $8 million and loaded with incentives.
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Sep 07

Game #1 wrap/Phillies 6, Mets 2: Martinez’s tank on empty.

Jerry Manuel went out of his way not to throw Pedro Martinez under the bus, but said enough to let it be known there’s not much left in his tank.

“With a couple of plays there, he might not have given up as many runs,’’ Manuel said. “He could have gotten out of there with maybe three runs.’’

Fine, that’s a 3-2 loss.

Manuel said Martinez’s velocity was better, but it still isn’t where it should be.

“I think this is what he has,’’ Manuel said of Martinez’s stuff. “I think he’s able to pitch with what he has. I think his instincts are enough at the major league level where he can complete.’’

 Maybe so, but that’s also if the defense is there and the offense produces something.

“With two runs in 18 innings, we wouldn’t be able to beat anybody,’’ Manuel said.

Boil it down and Manuel is saying everything has to be perfect for Martinez to win, and who’s comfortable with that?

Sep 07

Mets Chat Room, Game #1: What’s up with Pedro?

Mets vs. Phillies. Game two of three. Winning both would be great. Winning one is essential.

Pedro Martinez is going in the first game, and I’m concerned about him. He downplays velocity, but let’s face it, he’s not throwing exceptionally hard. Sooner or later, it has to be on his mind. Definitely, it has to be an issue.

With three weeks remaining, Martinez’s spot in the rotation will come up at least four more times, and the Mets aren’t in position to throw away four starts.

I really want to see what he has today.